Throughout this VBS experience there have been many things that have showed me the grace and power of God. From the kids we met, to the places we have gone, and the people who gave us lodging, I can see God’s hand at work. There are two people that stood out to me and have touched me and truly shown me what God’s work looked like, Arlis and Marsha Diener from Argentine Mennonite. I could see God in them in the way they work for their church. The immense amount of time planning their events and participating in community outreach in order to bring more kids to God is amazing. I could see they have unlimited faith in Him and always trust God in anything they do. When we first got to Argentine they told us about their community outreach to bring kids to VBS and shared their faith that God will give them the kids. The first day of VBS we had a great amount of kids and the number went up after that day. Another time I could see their faith was when we lost the keys to the van at the church. Our whole group was looking for them and no matter where we looked we couldn’t find them. We were all frustrated and tired after a long day. Marsha and Arlis got us to sit, calm down, and pray to God so that He could help, sure enough the keys were found! We were thankful to them for getting us to calm ourselves and put our faith in God. They really challenged me by opening my eyes to see people who love God unconditionally with no expectation of anything in return. Arlis and Marsha do this hard work because they love The Lord and want to see His kingdom come to life.
“My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever” (Psalm 145:21)
I cannot stop saying God is good and praising God! Watch for God is what I always say. On Thursday, I spent the day preparing my apartment expecting the worst and had decided to stay put in Corpus. On Thursday a couple I met, Steven and Selene Lopez, who had moved to Corpus from Brownsville and since become friends, invited and graciously opened their home for me to stay with them and ride out the storm together . I packed and went to stay with them. The news was reporting the worst, storm going up to CAT4 and on Friday the storm moved north 30 miles from Corpus and hit Rockport, TX where it cause so much damaged. Corpus did sustain some damage (fallen trees and power outages) but not as bad. I came home Saturday afternoon. I had no power and water coming in through the sliding door. My car wouldn’t start but God had been good! Some people still don’t have power and rain is still in the forecast for the week. Please continue to pray for the coast of Texas as Harvey lingers. My family and friends in Houston are suffering the flood.
I hope that I can get together with others and go help people in need. I feel the Lord has blessed me, and I want to pass on the blessing He gave me to others!!
Thank you for keeping me in your prayers, I felt the presence of God around me having so many people praying for me! God is good! Watch for God, He is on the move!!
Your sister in Christ.
–Grace Tijerina (pastor Community of Friends church plant in Corpus Christi, TX)
Note: Prince of Peace Mennonite Church, another SCC congregation in Corpus Christi, sustained fairly substantial damage to their building from the storm. Pastor Felipe Almodovar and Church Secretary Raquel Almodovar are in the process of assessing the costs and resources to repair this damage and working with SCC Regional Conference Minister, Lupe Aguilar. Some financial assistance will be needed and we will communicate these needs as they are finalized.
The Junior High Youth group from Bethel Mennonite Church (Inman) recently spent a couple of days in Kansas City for a service project at Omot and Hanna Aganya’s home and then went on to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. On Saturday afternoon the 14 youth and 8 adult sponsors cleaned up the yard, cleaned and stained the deck, did other repairs and planted flowers at the Aganya’s. Argentine Mennonite Church hosted the group Saturday and Sunday nights in their church building and Sunday morning the group joined their worship service and presented a skit. In the afternoon, they went to the Sundanese Church and helped in the Sunday School program. After that, they attended the Eden Life Church which is made up mostly of people originally from Ethiopia. After participating in those three 2 hour services, they went to the site of a church building that Eden Life Church wants to purchase. After looking around and hearing about the building, everyone held hands in a circle on the sidewalk and a number of youth and adults prayed for God’s direction about this possible meeting space for the Eden Life Church. Regional Conference Minister James Wenger, who was present, commented on how hard the youth worked, while also having a good time on Saturday. He was also impressed by their participation in all of those church services on Sunday with such a good attitude. On Monday morning the group continued their journey to the Creation Museum which they also enjoyed.
Research from multiple sources has shown that the parents actually have a greater impact on faith development than any other source (including church). After several attempts at planning different events or trainings, I realized that parents don’t exactly have an abundance of time to come to meetings. So, in order to assist in their journey as both parents and faith-formers, I began an email newsletter called “Resourcing and Equipping Parents,” or “R.E.P.” for short. The idea is to get resources into the hands of parents who might not know how to be leaders in this way. While the activities and practices I suggest are relatively simple, I believe they can have a profound impact on the entire family! I break it down by age group (infant, toddler, preschooler, grade-schooler, and teenager) and invite families to take on a practice based on the monthly theme. Themes have included reading the Bible, praying together, blessing others, showing compassion and kindness, and having conversations about faith. Sometimes the suggestions are one-time activities, other times times they are daily practices, and occasionally it involves downloading a tablet or smartphone app. Anything to get families connected with God and each other!
I’m working on getting this available more widely although, as you can imagine, it is no small task. Right now, if persons want to sign up, they can go to http://hesstonmc.org/parents/. It’s not exclusive to parents of those who attend Hesston Mennonite, but that is the main audience I’ve been working with until lately. My dream would be to have others contribute as well at some point. In the future, I also hope to have “back issues” available for those who might want to look back on past ideas if they’re new to the mailing list.
–Clayton Gladish, Hesston Mennonite Church